How to Pop


Charlie Adler, Author of I Drink on the Job” Popping the Champagne Cork Video!

I’ve probably opened more than 2,000 bottles of sparkling wine – that excludes Belgian beers and Real Ciders.
Believe it or not, the secret is in the knees – bend them just a bit..for whatever reason, whether it’s psychological or physics, this makes easing the cork out less cumbersome. I have to admit – sometimes the cork does fly out – even when you use the precautions mentioned in the video – ironically, this happened to me at the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, D.C. when I attempted to open some VERY fizzy Swiss wines.

Enjoy the video – I think you’ll find that opening a bottle of sparkling wine is relatively easy and care-free!

Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Advertisements

The Hard Truth About Cider

Cider Apples - Ugly to the Core!

When I first began putting this article together, I really wanted to understand cider – no, not the stuff you drank as a kid, and not really the “hard cider” concoction mass-marketed in the U.S. for people who want alcohol but have a sweet tooth – I’m talking about the “artisanal” ciders produced in Brittany, France, parts of Britain and now the U.S. Farnum Hill Ciders seemed like a good place to start and the fact that they were willing to “donate” some samples to my tasting cause (tax man-I drank them as a “charity” to my spirits!) certainly made the journey to understanding worth it. I tasted (more like consumed!) the Kingston Black Reserve and the Extra Dry. Yes, both of them had aromatics reminiscent of apples, but just as in wine, there is so much more to the nose. Well-made artisanal products have intense aromas and I noticed quite a bit of spice – or was that the fact that I associate apples with cinnamon and clove? Ahh, the brain, such a wonderful organ, it adds immense complexity to everything, especially when it comes to olfactory powers! What screamed out of the glass (mug?) of the Kingston Black was a yeastiness reminiscent of Belgian Lambics. The finish was dry as a bone on both products and you could see right through each glass of cider – they are obviously filtered. Conclusion: I need to learn more about cider before I evaluate them, so I contacted Farnum Hill’s Corrie Martin (Director of Marketing and Strategy).

Cider: Closer to Wine or Beer?

My conclusion from the interview is that “cider” is a great product and has a significant “potential” audience, the problem is getting the message to them! The dilemma is whether cider is more like beer or wine when it comes to marketing the product? Farnum Hill uses the same yeast strain that is used to make Champagne – so check-mark on the the wine side. Corrie mentioned that the market for the product and the retail shelf location tends to be near Belgian beers in the refrigerated section – two check-marks for beer. Much of the marketing is geared towards Champagne lovers – another check-mark for wine. Apples have “terroir” like wine grapes do, but apples are grown generally in cooler regions where beer is consumed as in Britain and northern France – check-marks on both side. When it comes to pairing, wine, beer and cider all have their pluses and minuses. In other words, cider has some image hurdles to jump before it can reach its intended audience.

So after the interview, I have some thoughts about cider and it’s place in American consuming culture. As Corrie mentioned: “cider is a farm drink”, it’s an agricultural product, a product of the earth. I think this is an important point: wine is portrayed to the American consumer as a “cultural” product. Yes, vines are grown in the fields and grapes ripen based on sun, heat and other elements, but there’s a bit of the “liquid poetry” and the expression of the earth story line. I don’t picture wine makers in overalls, even though that’s probably how they do their job, I picture them in a tasting room, evaluating. If you’ve ever been to France at wine trade tastings, it’s coat and tie, and frankly it’s a bit stuffy. Add the English culture to the wine equation with connoisseurs, sommeliers, and Clarets and wine is part of the aristocratic tradition. Even the British wine critics are bery, bery British, I mean watch your P’s and Q’s, thank you very much!

Beer on the other hand, is a more industrial product, and even on the “micro”/craft level, I picture engineers in jeans playing with test tubes, measuring the hops and talking about ABV. Even high-end beers are enjoyed by jean-clad, t-shirt wearing beer geeks who often produce the product in their cellars at home. You never hear the term “craft” relating to wine, it’s “craft beer” – you can make this stuff, buy the right ingredients, get your yeasts, a few instruments and heck, you can make the good stuff! The biggest differentiation is when you attend a premium wine festival vs. a beer festival. Wine is more dressed-up, beer is more casual in dress as well as attitude. You “have” a beer, never wine. Wine has plenty of accessories: corkscrews, glassware, stoppers, aerators, preservation systems and the list goes on; beer needs a church key and a glass, you’re good to go!

So where does cider fit – and is that “hard cider”? My conclusion is that cider’s strength’s are closer to beer’s. Yes, apples vary from year to year like the quality of grapes, but cider is not a product that needs aging, and it preserves better refrigerated, so it most likely will be found in your retail outlet either in the domestic beer section or near the Belgian beers. Most cider will probably be marketed as dry or off-dry (that’s another consideration – how many people “perceive” cider to be sweet – that’s a marketing hurdle all by itself!) and possibly even looks similar to Champagne in color and bubble, but it just drinks more like beer! The alcohol level is in the 6-8% range (generally, very generally!) so that makes it a consumable closer to beer for practical purposes – you can have a mug of cider/beer of 12 to 16 oz. and still walk-away – the equivalent consumption of wine might take you over the legal limit, again, another consideration.

So now I add the weird question: when would I drink cider? Does it replace some of my wine consumption, or more of my beer drinking? I drink wine with food – period. Beer to me is an excellent stand-alone beverage, something I often drink when smoking meats, in fact, I use it as a cooking timer – ribs are ready after 2 or 3 beers, brisket the same, but add a 1-hour nap. I’m basing the beer equation on an approximate 12 oz. beer, many of the ciders are sold in 750 ml’s which is just over 25 oz..oh, that’s 2 beers, right! I often add beer and apple cider vinegar when I braise my BBQ to finish it for an extra hour or two – hey, again, cider is perfect, it saves me one step! Oh, and I love to make wine vinegar with any leftover wine, now I can make artisanal cider vinegar. Another double benefit for me. Cider will take away some of my beer consumption, but virtually none of my wine consumption. I drink beer maybe once a week, but wine literally every day, usually lunch and dinner, so a few bottles of cider a month suffice for my personal consumption. Another plus, is it doesn’t effect my Scotch/Rum/Bourbon consumption – a true relief to me!

Final thoughts

Image is everything when it comes to marketing a product, especially when you are trying to reach the “up market” demographics that cider is reaching. The bottle shape, size, closure (cork or cap?), the location in the store, the design and text of the label will all have an enormous effect on the perception of cider. The trick is to be associated with a competitive product that has the high-end image the producer is seeking. Champagne has this image as well as wine, but so does craft beer. If I pour cider in a fancy thin flute, you might sip it differently than you would if I poured it in a 16 oz. pint glass, in fact, I guarantee you will treat it differently. Still, Belgian beers have been relatively successful at marketing themself, and the consumer will drink Belgians in pints or in special glasses, I’m not sure if it makes significant difference in the products perception? Personally, I like the idea of a group of casually dressed people in a Pub with old-fashioned blue-collar ceramic mugs drinking frothy ciders and singing old English songs of a time gone by. I actually like the blue-collar image of cider – it’s sort of a nostalgia thing, kind of like the return of the Hamburger joint in the U.S. – yes, the hamburger’s recipe has been updated with better cheeses, Kobe beef, homemade ketchup and fries fried in olive oil, but it still brings back memories of a simpler more casual time. When I drink my Champagne, I want my Champagne, but when I drink my cider, I want to just be cave-man me!

Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Wine As Part of an Intelligent Diet

The Sniff

It’s very controversial in the U.S. to consider an alcoholic beverage as part of a healthy diet. Study after study has shown pretty conclusively that consuming wine daily (especially red wine) in moderation is healthy for you. Yes, there are many caveats and risks, but no more so than taking the majority of pharmaceutical drugs which often have side effects that are dangerous in themselves! Here are some basic points to consider:

1. Consume wine with meals.

Wine was meant to be enjoyed with food – period! Wine adds pleasure to the enjoyment of food and is much better for you than a can of soda. Generally, low in sugar, fat and calories (and protein for that matter), it enhances the flavor of food. The other benefit of eating and drinking together is food slows down the absorption of alcohol in your system, the two essentially bind together. Because of this fact, wine is actually a foodstuff and, assuming you drink it with food in moderation, can actually aid digestion, fight bacteria and other microbes and increase pleasure. The last fact is the one most ignored but should be taken into consideration. Unless you eat purely for nutrition or out of hunger, enjoyment of the consumption of food should be taken very seriously. If you’re brain is happy, then your body will follow, and just as in food, if you over-consume, you will feel the consequences later!

2. Consume wine every day

Again, the majority of studies suggest that consuming red wine is most effective if you drink it every day – again, in moderation. The term “moderation” is a bit controversial, because a few studies suggest that one glass per day for a woman and two glasses per day for a man are the optimal consumption, but this ignores many personal factors: your weight, metabolism, lifestyle and activity. I’m not a doctor, nor am I suggesting that I know the ultimate good or bad consequences on your body if you consume various amounts of red wine, but for myself, I seem to handler three to five glasses per day with no hangover, no residual cloudiness of mind function and no identifiable negatives. I recently had a complete physical and even my liver is working in good order – my cholesterol is a bit high, but I drink red wine, so I’m not concerned!

Some of the benefits mentioned of daily red wine consumption (I added daily, but again, that’s what the studies base their claims on!) are lower rates of heart disease, less chance of getting Diabetes, reduction in the severity of some forms of cancer, and less severe Alzheimers. Red wine has various anti-oxidants like resveratrol which are derived primarily from the skins of red grapes. Yes – you could simply eat red grapes – but some of the benefits also accrue from alcohol itself, so you would have to add a shot of liquor or two! Of course, there are some negative studies as well, but overall, many physicians today agree that red wine can be part of a healthy diet. As with all things, you will have to decide for yourself, but if you exercise and eat right, a few glasses of wine could be an added benefit.

3. All Things in Balance

The usual quote here is “all things in moderation” but that can be very misleading. Of course, you should consume wine “moderately”, but one person’s moderate is another person’s over-indulgence (or under). An added benefit of wine is that it promotes sleep. Americans tend to work until they’re exhausted and then they often find difficulty getting to sleep. In European countries, they have longer vacations and often take a daily nap which promotes a healthier lifestyle and less stress. Consuming wine in balance with the rest of your life means that it should be part of a healthy lifestyle which includes proper rest (power naps are very good for you!), stress-control and relaxation, and generally overall good health. The latter point is directed primarily to weight-control. The biggest health factor after stress itself is being overweight. If you balance your lifestyle, then you can have your glass of red wine, your power nap, a nice vacation, and be thin at the same time! Yes, wine promotes a good appetite, but it also enhances flavor which means you can eat less and enjoy your food more!

These were just some thoughts to post about wine and health during the post-Thanksgiving and holiday season when people tend to get out of balance a bit. Wine consumption is looked on critically by many people in America because it’s connected with alcohol, but you rarely hear anyone tell you enjoy your holidays in moderation. So here’s wishing you a holiday season – drink your red wine, EAT in moderation, and enjoy the company of others!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Self-Esteem, Self-Loathing and Self-Publishing

Charlie Adler Schlurping!


I just submitted my final edited manuscript to my publisher Book Surgeon Monday, November 23rd, 2009 – a Big Yayyyy (my editor would shoot me if he or she–they is incorrect– as well as these dashes, I think I need an em dash, but that’s a whole other story!)!!! OK, back to the real world.. I spent about two weeks going through the final edited version of my book “I Drink on the Job: A Refreshing Perspective on Wine” which included inserting 36 images of me (that’s Charlie Adler!) in various poses demonstrating different aspects of my teaching style. The book is based on a popular wine class I’ve been organizing and teaching through my company TasteDC TasteDC.com in Washington, D.C. for the past twelve (not 12) years called Wine Basics 101. I still have to finish final design of the cover and interior of the book, but since my publisher’s team of designers handles primarily handles that, I’m just giving them as much direction as I can, and that’s not very much! The following are some observations from what I’ve learned so far about self-publishing:

1) Self-publishing means you need to purchase the various components of your book.

If you get a fancy literary agent, or you’re lucky enough to have a major publisher throw beaucoup dollars at you with an advance, then you actually have money in your pocket when you start the publishing process. I considered sending proposals to publishers and literary agents early in the process until I met with my old neighborhood buddie, Dan Moldea. Dan is an investigative journalist, he’s written eight books that have covered everything from the Mafia to O.J. Simpson (his website is at Dan Moldea’s Website I met him at his hangout in DC, Morty’s Deli back in early 2008 to discuss writing my first book. What Dan told me was fascinating. In his experience, he never felt he was treated very well by the major publishers, in fact, he felt they pretty much forgot each of his books about eight months into the marketing of his book. Yes, he received advances and he also made some good money on the O.J. title which was a timely best-seller, but he guided me away from going to a traditional publisher. He mentioned a company called “BookSurge” which is a self-publishing company owned by Amazon.com.

In a nutshell, Dan told me that self-publishing was the way to go: yes, I would have to purchase all the services from editing to layout, but there were numerous benefits. Some of the benefits he mentioned include the ability to continue marketing and promoting your title for as long as you choose, higher royalty fees, and setting your own deadlines for production. Just so you know, the latter may or not be a benefit, I started my first book almost two years ago, I thought the process would only take six to nine months! There are some negatives as well, such as the fact that I won’t have my book for sale in traditional book sellers, but frankly that’s probably a good thing. Realistically, how long do brick and mortar bookstores have left in the commercial world, and even if they survive the internet, they also hold the right to return unsold books. Add the lower royalty to selling through a traditional bookstore, and it becomes obvious why selling on Amazon.com and other internet retailers makes more sense. It’s all about On-Demand publishing, books are printed as they are ordered on Amazon.com, but that’s a story for another Blog entry.

Almost forgot to mention: The actual cost of self-publishing my first book including interior photographs, publishing services and a dedicated website will be around $10K. Could you do it cheaper? Yes, there are ways to save money, for example, you could create your own website and forego hiring a photographer. Other ways to save money include using Booksurges standard templates for cover and interior, and learning to edit yourself, but I felt these were outside my expertise. Let’s just say, you need a few thousand dollars to self-publish a full book.

2) You must give yourself plenty of time.

As I mentioned in the prior paragraph, my first book has been about a 24 month process – that is IF I finish it by the end of January, 2010, but that seems realistic at this point. If you have a full-time job and a life before you start your book, one of them will have to give way for the book! I know that life isn’t fair, but you can’t have it all, and you need immense concentration and free time to finish a book. You’ll most likely turn into a moody, overly emotional vagabond..well, OK, that’s a bit extreme, but I have definitely developed a personality “edge”, although some people say I’ve always been this way.

My publishers told me that slow and steady is the way to go. They suggested that hurrying a book is not a good idea, most authors only regret it later. I’ve taken plenty of time for each process, I even hired a PR company to handle my book and then decided a few weeks later that they were not right for me. Since I didn’t really need to do much research for my book because I am the subject of the book based on one class that I’ve taught for twelve years, I put my efforts into organizing and re-organizing all the information. I have spent time with a photographer for interior photos, promoting myself to local wine festivals as a speaker, networking at various charity and wine events, and now I’m working on http://www.idrinkonthejob.com as the main book web site and re-designing this Blog. You can’t hurry time, you just learn to deal with delays..

3) Self-publishing means you need to be self-motivated.

If you’re used to having a boss, a weekly paycheck and you follow orders really well at work, then self-publishing might be self-torture. Since I’m entrepreneurial and I’ve run my own company TasteDC for over twelve years, I’ve learned to stay focused and motivated. I have a personal trainer, I get a “therapeutic” massage every Friday like clockwork, and I generally stay in shape to keep my mind and body sharp. I’ve even added self-hypnosis tapes to increase my concentration, relax better and ultimately I lost forty-seven pounds as well – an important feat because I’m on the cover of my book! I wake up when I need to, I eat when I need to, I write/edit when possible, I run my full-time wine tasting business in-between, and I sleep when I need to. I’ve learned to balance my work and my book, my social life has been reduced significantly. Sometimes I think about all the fun things I could be doing other than writing a book, but I know from experience that the payoff will take time. The first book may not sell well, but that’s irrelevant to me. I’m writing the book for credibility and as a vehicle for self-promotion-OK, there’s a bit of ego involved, but I accept the worst-case scenario of failure and I can live with it. Self-motivated people are used to rejection and negative reactions in general, frankly I find it motivates me to another level. When I’m at the gym with my personal trainer and he tells me to do 50 push-ups, I do 55 if I can. There are no excuses in life–especially when you rely only on yourself!

Cheers everyone and happy Thanksgiving!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Does America Have “Poor Wine Self-Esteem”?

gary_vaynerchuk

Does America Have Poor “Wine Self-Esteem”

I saw the awesome Gary Vay – Ner – Chuk on his #aucrush #crushit “Crush It” book tour this past Wednesday at American University’s Kogod College of Business. I wasn’t just seeing Gary to hear about his book, but frankly I had a bit of an agenda: I wanted to promote my own book “I Drink on the Job” on his fun web show Wine Library TV (I have good news at the conclusion of this Blog Post!). Since I obviously wanted to draw some attention to myself in an audience of 200+ mostly college students, I wanted to ask a relevant question about wine to get Gary’s point of view. I was so excited/thrilled when the Moderator pointed at me to ask a question, I literally jumped up in the air, I was really pumped up by the show!

My question for Gary was about American’s “confusion” with wine and what he thought the problem was. In usual Gary fashion, probably the most quotable man in the wine business as well as all of Wine 2.0, he spewed out one-liners like “We’re stuck on 16 adjectives”, “People have no wine self-esteem”, and “I’ve seen grown men sweat at a business dinner..” His key point was that there’s a lack of what he calls “wine self-esteem” in the U.S. I thought this was something to delve into further because it’s one of the main reasons that I wrote my book “I Drink on the Job”.

According to Wikipedia Definition “Self-esteem”: “Self-esteem” is a term used in psychology to reflect a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. According to Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV WineLibraryTV, his newest book “Crush It” Crush It and many other entrepreneurial ventures, this is the biggest “problem” among American wine consumers today. Here’s the UStream Video of the event Gary Vaynerchuk Video at AU Crush It (I’m at about the 36th minute, he definitely noticed me!).

Throughout my book, I mention episodes of tension with American wine consumers in the real world. Examples include the woman who almost fainted when she found out I had purchased wines with screw top closures for her corporate event, the gentleman who almost went ballistic when I suggested that Robert Parker may not in fact be a “wine God”, and the woman who would not accept a pour of wine from me – at a wine tasting! Throughout my twelve year career in wine, I have experienced so much wine anxiety that I think Gary hit it right on the head – it’s actually American’s lack of “wine” self-esteem. Much of the proof of this is anecdotal, but when I teach TasteDC’s TasteDC Website wine course Wine Basics 101, I get the same questions over and over again: what do the “legs” of wine mean, is a more expensive wine a better wine, how long should a wine age, etc. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the questions, in fact, I think it’s very healthy to have strong curiosity about wine. I think the problem is that too many people believe there is in fact a right and a wrong answer. Too many wine professionals portray wine as something “difficult”, “complicated” and “mystical” – why else would they “de-mystify” wine? You only de-mystify, what is a mystery. What if wine professionals simply told new wine consumers to try a wine first and see if that person gains pleasure or to make wine part of daily meals? I spend over 200 pages in my book “I Drink on the Job” portraying wine as an everyday staple – drink it every day with your meals and the mystery disappears like the secrets to a magic trick. Once you get past the “illusion” of wine, it becomes an enjoyable part of your day, and a way to improve the pleasure of your meals.

As I always like to say: “Drink first, ask questions later”..but of course, I’m..

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Wine Book Tour Thoughts

Charlie Adler - Drinking on the Job!

Charlie Adler - Drinking on the Job!


I’m putting together the finishing touches on the book “I Drink on the Job: A Refreshing Perspective on Wine”. Right now, I’m organizing the photoshoot and working on the book website. FYI, http://www.idrinkonthejob.com will change from being the blog itself into being the website for the book. In other words, The blog will be one of the links on the website, but the overall site will include excerpts from the book (like “nobody ever dies from a bad food and wine pairing”), a Calendar to find me on tour, photos, videos and details on how to reach me. My goal is to be a major wine speaker at wine festivals throughout the U.S. and possibly some international venues. I expect to increase my exposure to corporate event planners who are looking for an entertaining speaker who can also educate their audience with common sense anecdotes that will help them improve their ability to choose a wine..Oh, and of course, being a better wine “chooser” makes a person a better employee, leader, and overall great person – yeeowww!!

If you represent any wine festivals, feel free to contact me at wine@tastedc.com. My twitter account at idrinkonthejob went active and live about two weeks ago and I’m adding followers at a good pace. My intent is to use Twitter to give quick anecdotes of my tour and things I learn and experience while out and about and tasting. I love my Blackberry Storm and it really helps me to quickly take photos, blog, Tweet and even add video. My message is both to the Newbie wine consumer and to the industry as well: anyone can quickly get started in wine, all they have to do is think of wine as part of a meal. Keep it simple and don’t worry about the details, drink first, ask questions later, there are so many excellent choices, it’s best to learn as you go!

OK, back to drinking on the job, have a great football Sunday everyone – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

“I Drink” Becoming Reality

Spiceupyourpr
If you have a book with a catchy title, you generally make your Publicist pretty happy. This is one of the early lessons in using a PR agency, give them something to work with – you, title, description and belief in what you’re about. I’ve been in front of audiences teaching my particular point of view on wine since the late 90’s. The title “I Drink on the Job” is actually my motto that I’ve been using at TasteDC ever since I experimented with personal anecdotes on a private culinary jet tour of Europe in 2001 – I forget the other motto I tried, but it didn’t work, the group of wealthy Americans said stick with drinking on the job! My description of who and what I am and do is still being worked on by my new agency (which is Hisaoka out of DC, BTW..), but my belief in the book and what I have to offer the world is strong – I have commitment! Now the question is how do I package and market myself, I don’t fit well into a bottle?

A few nights ago at a fun gathering at a L2 (a club in Georgetown) someone I was introduced to mentioned that I sort of reminded them of Anthony Bourdain. This was for me like hitting the jackpot: I’m 5’9″ tall, so no one would ever physically mistake me for Bourdain, but there are some interesting similarities. The most obvious traits we have in common are that we both tend to go against the grain of our respective industries and in many ways we represent the underbelly. I have always challenged the orthodoxy of the wine industry both from the perspective of the rep who is forced to push his product and the wine educator who feels compelled to repeat the wisdom they are taught without questioning the content. In the past, I have publicly stated that if I don’t enjoy a wine, I will say so to everyone and express my convictions. That’s it – express my convictions – I don’t need to gain agreement from my peers in order to be a success. I will probably never take the WSET wine education programs not so much because I’m obstinate, but more because I want to truly think outside the box. And BTW, I drink wine out of the box, I just purchased a 1 liter tetrapak for a whopping $5.99 at WF and that was discounted 50% – so nobody wants to purchase box wine right now, watch, it will be considered trendy and hip in the U.S. in about 2 months, mark my words!

So my current goal is to develop my persona into a marketable entity. My PR company is meeting with me again next week to see what the opportunities are and where I can best fit into the media world unfolding out there. Gary Vaynerchuk is a wine God, and he has truly opened up the Web 2.0/Social Media world to wine as entertainment, so the model is unfolding in front of our collective eyes. The answer is “No” – I don’t want to be a Bourdain or a Vaynerchuk, I want to be Charlie Adler with my own message on wine with my title quote and favorite wine quote: “a meal without wine is breakfast”! I’ll update the blog as my identity unfolds for the marketing world. I also guarantee I won’t be a sell-out, but you know I can always be influenced by a free trip to wine country because I’m..

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler